| On January
20, 1935, a CBS survey revealed WWVA to be the leading CBS
station, drawing more mail than any other network affiliate.
In June WWVA added another feature to it's expanding radio service with the inauguration of United Press News Services. That same month the station broadcast the first Wheeling election under charter plan with the WWVA microphone at counting board headquarters.
Tuesday March 17, 1936, 10th anniversary year for WWVA and the year long remembered as the year of the great Wheeling flood. At 9AM WWVA received first word of warning from the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce that high water was on its way to Wheeling. Two days later, At 3 PM, March 19th an angry avalanche of watery destruction roared down the Ohio River, bringing with it utter devastation to the Wheeling area. A flood level of 54.5 feet was reached, covering an area of approximately 8 square miles of business and residential property. Through the dark, anguishing hours, WWVA staff, entertainers and engineers responded unselfishly maintaining 92-1/2 hours of continuos broadcasting, sending out bulletins, flood reports to resident of the stricken area. In recognition of the valuable public serous rendered by WWVA to the flood victims, the American Red Cross presented WWVA with a Certificate of Appreciation on April 6, 1936.
The following July, 28th, 1936 100 mile an hour winds destroyed WWVA's twin 225 foot towers at the West Liberty transmitter plant.
As WWVA's first decade of broadcasting drew to a close in 1936, a new and unique program was introduced to the listening audience. On November 8, the Wheeling Steel Employees Family Broadcasts went on the air, a Sunday afternoon variety program featuring "The Steelmakers" orchestra led by Earl Summers Sr.
As WWVA embarked upon a second decade of broadcasting, 2 of its shows were proving to be big hits with the station's listeners. The Saturday night Jamboree and the Sunday afternoon Wheeling Steel Hour, to very diverse styles of musical entertainment, found great appeal with the public. When 7,087 fans attended the Harvest Home Festival Jamboree inOctober 1937, the WWVA people knew then that they had hit upon a highly successful formula of entertainment. Sunday programming included several hours of all-faith religious music in addition to the Wheeling Steel Hour musical variety show.
1939 ... was the year of "Gone with the Wind" and it was also the year the first Jamboree Tour went on the road, visiting 6 cities and drawing 19,464 persons during it's April tour.
By October 8, 1939, the Wheeling Steel Hour was being heard coast to coast when the Mutual Network began feeding the program to many of its stations across the country. Moving into the 40's, those pre-war, pre-television years when America was slowly recovering from the dreary misery of the depression, radio was truly America's "Ear to the World" for news and entertainment and WWVA continued to demonstrate leadership in radio programming with its wide variety of local and network programs.
May 28, 1941, the FCC moved WWVA to its present 1170 spot on the dial and in June the station began full time operation and joined the Blue Network of NBC. Now, the daily broadcast schedule put WWVA on the air from 5AM to 1AM with local and national news, afternoon soap operas, dramatic, mystery and adventure serials, variety shows, children's programs and those much-loved 15 minute musical segments featuring favorite Jamboree entertainers. In the late summer of 1941, the horizon was looking very bright for WWVA radio, in August the FCC granted WWVA an increase to 50,000 watts. Following an exhaustive survey of broadcasting tests by WWVA engineers in a wide variety of Ohio Valley locations, it was determined the a hilltop site, just east of St. Clairsville, Ohio (about 12 miles west of Wheeling) would be the ideal location for the construction of the new transmitter. With FCC approval, work began on the new ultra-modern facility. AND THEN ... Sunday, December the 7th dawned, the unforgettable" ... day that will live in infamy." Over the WWVA airwaves crackled the electrifying new that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. The peace Americans had enjoyed for so long was sickeningly shattered that pre Christmas morning as radio stations from coast to coast bombarded listeners with news and details of the sneak attack.
WWVA kept Ohio Valley listeners abreast of events as they developed and he station was the primary source of news bulletins concerning the pacific holocaust. In the months immediately following, WWVA and its entire staff exerted every effort possible in support of the war effort.
October 8, 1942 WWVA aired its first broadcast over the new 50,000-watt transmitter towers. Daytime broadcasting now covered an area within a 150-mile radius of Wheeling and reached a night time market that encompassed 18 eastern states, from Maine to North Carolina, and north into 6 Canadian provinces.
Late 1942, as America geared to support the war effort and product shortages began to appear, WWVA suspended all public appearances of the Jamboree due to gas rationing and the last show was held Saturday, December 5th. Saturday night radio broadcasts of the Jamboree continued, however now to a bigger than ever listening audience. And in June 1943, as a salute to our service men, WWVA transcribed the Jamboree for a re-broadcasting by the Armed Forces Radio.
From 1943 to 1945, as the war years dragged on, WWVA maintained regular daily programming. Special programs of war news were featured each day and the daily "Immortal Role of Honor" was a WWVA salute to was casualties of the 1170 listening area. Thirty WWVA employees went into the armed services and those at home continued to support the war effort to the fullest.
The year 1946 was a second decade anniversary for WWVA. Now, with the war finally over, WWVA resumed theatre performances of the Jamboree and the first post-war show opened at the Virginia Theatre on July 13, a gala and happy night for both Jamboree fans and the entertainers as well.
1946 also marked the 10th anniversary of the Tri-State Farm and Home Program, a daily public service program that informed WWVA listeners of the latest news and developments in agriculture and in the home.
December 13, 1946 marked the 20th Anniversary for WWVA radio. In honor of the happy occasion, the station held an open house in their studios in the Hawley Building and the public was invited to tour the facilities and view the actual broadcasting of various programs throughout the day.
Looking back, WWVA could reflect on 2 decades of out-standing growth and continued upgrading of program entertainment. The Jamboree had become a nationally known Saturday night country music tradition and WWVA's "Friendly Voice from Out of the Hills of West Virginia" was well established as a leading figure in the Radio World.
With the powerful 50,000 watt 1170 voice being beamed to one of the largest radio listening audiences in the nation, WWVA programmed only the very best in broadcasting entertainment in an all-out effort to please those millions of listeners. New programs were added, many of which were focused on affairs of public interest, such as the award winning Junior Town Meeting of the Air, introduced in the spring of 1947.
Saturday, February 8, 1947 the One Millionth patron walked through the doors for Jamboree, Virginia Theatre, Wheeling.
June 15, 1947, the station re-joined the CBS Network (following 5 year with NBC and 1 year with ABC) and this uniting of 2 powerful radio voices quickly made WWVA "The Biggest Show in Town". With its strategic Tri-State location, the Friendly Voice of WWVA did indeed "Cover the Heart of the Steel and Coal Belt of the Nation" as proudly proclaimed in the publicity and advertising that announced the move back to CBS.
A brief glance at the daily programming log of the late 40's illustrates the wide variety of programs WWVAA aired in it's dedicated effort to entertain and inform its listeners. (See picture)
During the closing years of the 40's, when television was just coming of age, radio was enjoying its peak period as an immediate and influential communication medium, with thousands of faithful daily listeners in whose homes and businesses the friendly 1170 voice was depended upon for news, sports and entertainment.
On Monday, September 1, 1947, WWVA aired the first FM broadcast in the Wheeling area. Under the direction of Chief Engineer Eddie Keim, a new RCA transmitter was installed in the studios in the Hawley building and FM broadcasting was transmitted for 6 hours daily, between 3 and 9 PM. FM practically eliminated static interference, preventing fading and enabled the station to transmit a clear, uninterrupted signal that could not be crowded out by other stations.
Over the CBS Network, nationally known stars like Arthur Godfrey, Art Linkletter, Lum & Abner, Vaughn Monroe, Bob Crosby. Frank Sinatra and others were heard daily over WWVA along with programs like Inner Sanctum, Lux Radio Theatre, Blondie, Sam Spade, Mr. Keene, Helen Trent, Our Gal Sunday, The Third Man. A virtually endless list of variety radio shows and soap operas that still arouse a wave of nostalgia among those who "grew up" on radio back in the 40's and 50's.
1926 - 1934 | 1935 -
1949 | 1950
- 1958 | 1959
- 1969 | 1970 - 1976
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